394.31/1–2651: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Chairman of the United States-Delegation to the Torquay Conference ( Corse )


335. For Corse. USTAC. For your info for possible use in discussions with Brit, fol are views Dept re possible alternatives.1

Alternative of “no agreement with UK” considered most undesirable. Such outcome wld be regarded as indication basic disagreement between US and UK. Wld not really help with TA renewal even if welcomed by critics of program.2
Alternative of “limited agreement with balance in favor of Brit” considered most undesirable. Such outcome wld have adverse effects on [Page 1267] renewal and cld not be defended against background historical statements on reciprocity. Consider that balance wld be in favor of Brit if their offers were limited and our offers included substantial concessions such key items as wool textiles, cotton textiles, chinaware, etc.3
Alternative “limited agreement in fair balance” regarded as only possible outcome if Brit do not make substantial offers. This alternative unsatisfactory and regrettable but Dept wld be prepared accept it.4
Above are views ITP and BNA.

  1. As the Torquay Tariff Negotiating Conference entered its 1951 phase, the United States Delegation was awaiting the new British offers. In a lengthy informal meeting on January 8 between the principals of the two delegations, the United States representatives reviewed the situation in light of an emerging conference consensus that all tariff negotiations—both of the Article XXVIII type and also new concessions—should be completed by February 28. The United States representatives pressed for new British offers by January 22. (Delegation’s Weekly Report No. 12, Part 2, January 16, 1951, 394.31/1–1651)

    Telegram 335, January 26, was sent to speed information which was being transmitted to the Delegation in a letter dated January 25 written by W.T.M. Beale, Acting Chief, Commercial Policy Staff. The three alternatives named here were spelled out in somewhat more detail in the letter. From the point of view of the Delegation the chief significance of the letter derived from the following statement: “In his letter to Win [Winthrop G. Brown, Director, Office of International Trade Policy], dated December 23, Carl [Corse, Acting Chairman of the Torquay Delegation] said he would like to have some assurance that the Department would not undercut him by insisting that unbalanced agreements be concluded. This letter is intended to provide that assurance in the case of the negotiations with the British.” (Letter, Beale to James H. Lewis of the U.S. Delegation at Torquay, January 25, 1951, International Trade Files, Lot 57 D 284, Box 134, “Torquay Correspondence—II”)

  2. Legislation was pending in Congress at this time for the renewal and extension of the Trade Agreements Act; see pp. 1373 ff.
  3. On the United States side the American offers on earthenware, chinaware, cotton and wool textiles, and leather were considered to be “very difficult items” on which to make concessions, from the point of view of the affected United States commercial interests. The United Kingdom representatives had indicated that these were exactly the items the British wanted the most. They had stated further the British view that the United States was making offers on many items “unwanted” by the British, for which the United States “should not expect much payment.” (Delegation’s Weekly Report No. 12, Part 2, January 16, 1951, 394.31/1–1651)
  4. In the Beale letter of January 25 cited in footnote 1 above, the meaning of the term “limited agreement in fair balance” had been defined as “withdrawing any substantial concessions on such items as woolens, cotton textiles, china, earthenware, etc., i.e., the usual list of critical items . . . giving just about what we got, even if the results were only slightly less than ridiculous.”

    On January 27 the third formal meeting was held between the United States and British negotiating teams, and new offers were received from the United Kingdom. This began six weeks of technically complicated negotiations, during which Harold Wilson, President of the Board of Trade, seems to have endorsed an “unyielding position” taken by the British as early as February 4; a trip to Washington for consultations by Carl D. Corse, Acting United States Chairman; and consultations between Corse and Sir Stephen Holmes, ranking British negotiator, both in London and Torquay, upon Corse’s return. During this period, aside from the movements and activities of these principals, the United States and British negotiating teams at Torquay were in constant contact in an effort to “balance” their respective offers and requests. In this “nuts and bolts” operation the essential direction on the United States side came from the Interdepartmental Committee on Trade Agreements (TAC), which was actually sitting at Torquay.

    This six-week phase was reported by the United States Delegation in its Weekly Reports No. 14, January 29, 1951, through No. 21, March 20, 1951 (394.31). The following is essential documentation with respect to the development of the United States position, in the form of memoranda from the United States negotiating team to the Interdepartmental Committee on Trade Agreements:

    Memorandum entitled “Improved U.K. Offers and Proposed Revision of U.S. Requests”, January 29, 1951 (Doc. TAC D–35/51);
    Memorandum entitled, “Status of Negotiations with the United Kingdom”, February 8, 1951 (Doc. TAC D–48/51);
    Memorandum entitled “Status of Negotiations with the United Kingdom”, February 19, 1951 (Doc. D–60/51);
    Memorandum entitled “Revised Recommendation Regarding Procedure”, February 20, 1951 (Doc. TAC D–60/51, Supplement 1);
    Memorandum entitled “Negotiations with the United Kingdom”, March 14, 1951 (Doc.TACD–98/51) (With Supplement).

    (International Trade Files, Lot 57 D 284, Box 138, “United Kingdom–GATT—UK Offers at Torquay”)